NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A museum exhibit about the legacy of a group of Puerto Rican activists is drawing crowds in East Harlem.

As WCBS 880’s Jane Tillman Irving reported, El Museo del Barrio on Fifth Avenue and 104th Street is hosting the the exhibition, called “Presente! The Young Lords in New York.”

Pablo Guzman, the minister of information for the Young Lords, said the group of mostly Puerto Rican college students that formed in 1969 was inspired by the Black Panther Party.

“Some people in our organization felt that there was nothing that spoke to Puerto Ricans,” Guzman, now a television journalist, told Irving.

“We didn’t want to get caught up in things like should Puerto Rico be independent, all these abstract kind of questions, but something that really tied to people’s daily lives,” he explained.

The incident that put the Young Lords on the map was known as the “Garbage Offensive.” The activists complained that East Harlem was covered in trash while the nearby Upper East Side had regular garbage collection and was pristine.

When the city failed to respond, “we took everything that we had accumulated — old refrigerators, rusted cars, all the trash — and stretched it across Lexington Avenue and set it on fire,” Guzman said.

Pablo Guzman (Credit: CBS2)

Pablo Guzman (Credit: CBS2)

Jorge Daniel Veneciano, executive director for El Museo del Barrio, said he believes there is a “nice segue” between political movements and art, which is reflected in the exhibit.

“I think that artists are drawn to the activism in a way that animates then their artwork,” he said.

“Our exhibition consists of some of the memorabilia, such as the newspapers that the Young Lords organization produced called Palante, as well as the photography that recorded the events of the Young Lords. … From sort of documentary, archival material to historical art from our collection to newly commissioned art in this celebration.”

The bylines in the Young Lords’ newspapers are well known to people today. In addition to Guzman, there were Felipe Luciano, Juan Gonzalez and Geraldo Rivera.

The exhibition is free and runs through Dec. 12. For more information, visit


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